23 May 2014

Zambia: HRC Calls for Modern Prison Infrastructure

THE Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called for the construction of modern prison infrastructure to reduce congestion in places of detention.

HRC director Florence, Chibwesha said Government should also address the challenges regarding separation of various categories of inmates and the needs of inmates with disabilities.

Ms Chibwesha said in a statement that the commission is concerned with the deplorable conditions in Zambian prisons and police cells in the country.

"It has been highlighted before on many occasions by the commission and other stakeholders that conditions in places of detention are not fit for human habitation, but little improvement has been seen. We wish to urge the relevant authorities to take immediate action to change face of our prisons and the plight of inmates," she said.

She said a decision must be made to ban the use of torture and other inhuman or degrading techniques in investigations and interrogation by law enforcement officers and to make torture an offence punishable by law.

Ms Chibwesha said the Zambia prisons Service should undertake the establishment of health facilities at all prisons to make health services available and accessible to all inmates.

She also called on the Zambia Police to devise a mechanism of dealing promptly with investigations and any matters relating to persons in their custody to avoid congestion in the police cells.

"The commission, in this regard, recommends that that dockets be quickly transmitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for quick action," she added.

The HRC director said the Prison Service must also develop gender responsive penal reforms aimed at improving planning and delivery of services in prisons in a manner that is responsive to the different needs of men, women and children.

She called on Government to increase support to the Zambia Prisons Service in order to improve prison facilities and conditions in tandem with the UN Minimum Standard Rules.

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